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You Made Me Smile

You Made Me Smile

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You Made Me Smile

234 pages
3 heures
30 août 2021


Fifame Lawson is in her sophomore year in college. For years she has been struggling with depression; she is drowning in the void that submerges her. She has tried everything to get better, even things she shouldn't have done. She lives for others, fakes smiles, and is sure of one thing: depression is her best friend. When her path crosses

30 août 2021

À propos de l'auteur

Two-time winner of the universal post letter contest, Mélissa Délalie Houinsou is a young writer born in 2001 in Cotonou, Benin. A lover of writing, she is also a health sciences student at the University of Ottawa. She won one of the 2019 Watty awards in the New Adult category.

Aperçu du livre

You Made Me Smile - Mélissa Houinsou

You Made

Me Smile

Mélissa Délalie Houinsou

ISBN 978-1-9701-0970-2

Copyright © 2021 by Mélissa Délalie Houinsou

All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in any form, or by any mechanical or electronic means including photocopying or recording, or by any information storage or retrieval system, in whole or in part in any form, and in any case not without the written permission of the author and publisher.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Published August 2021



Two-time winner of the Universal Postal Union International Letter-Writing competition, Mélissa Délalie Houinsou is a young writer born in 2001 in Cotonou, Benin. A lover of writing, she is also a health sciences student at the University of Ottawa. She won a 2019 Watty Award in the New Adult category.



To those who give love,

to those who need love,

to my lovely family.



Writing this book was a way to heal myself through a difficult period and I hope it heals even the littlest broken part of your lives. I would like to thank my parents who give me unconditional love and support through every step I take. A special thanks to my friend Hayat who helped me keep my love of writing alive over the years, read all my drafts and gave me cheers when needed. To Annabelle, Lucrece and Vivien who particularly believed in me and encouraged me in the journey of You made me smile , I want you to know how much I value your confidence in my capacities. To all those who once read me or supported me in any other way, I give my deepest thanks.



For some, I am the depressed girl. Meanwhile for others, I am the lost girl. I am Fifame Lawson, some people may refer to me as a sad or instable person. Since that day in elementary school, the day everything changed, something broke inside me. I have been through depression for years. How am I doing now? Very well, at least this is what I tell everyone. The secret between the night, my pillow and my bed are another deal. They are the only people aware of the reality. Throughout those painful years, I could no longer eat — I was thinner than a rake, I smiled barely, I was always sick. To sum up, I was the shadow of myself… I still am. There are so many incurable diseases, but depression is the strongest one. No one can help me, and I can’t promise anything to anyone. I just have to live with it, with my best friend, depression. Today I am better, I am used to her… And I don’t notice her any more. Depression has become mine. In fact, I have become hers.



Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Sifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Five

Chapter Twenty-Six

Chapter Twenty-Nine




After dinner, I help my mother to clean up: plates and bowls straight in the dishwasher after neatly conserving the eatable rest of foods in the fridge and glasses washed directly to keep their brightness. Father is sitting on a chair, sipping his coffee and reading for the hundredth time the same magazine about architecture. He narrows his eyes as if to catch any detail. I kiss mother on the cheek and then hug father who barely looks at me. I sometimes think he loves more architecture than me. They finally smile to me and wish me goodnight. I reach my room, put on my big pajamas —a long pant and a shirt with Naruto’ characters drawn all over them — and throw myself onto bed. My smile falls and tears take over my face as I feel that emptiness filling my heart.

Same story, same routine. Smile the day and cry the night, no one knows it. I switch the light off with an impatient move before lying back down roughly. As I am staring at the ceiling through the twilight, I startle when my phone beeps. I grab it without excitement, sit and scroll the screen, in search of any meaningful news. I don’t like social networks; they make me sad. I hate to see those perfect lives through my screen. I have a wonderful family, great friends (big joke) but I still feel bad, always bad. The only picture on my Instagram profile appears. My parents took it for my last birthday. I was sitting on the couch and smiling, at least trying.

Looking so happy but so sad is sad.

I frown while reading the text from someone called Yourlight.

What are you talking about?

I couldn’t help but reply.

Your pic, why do you look so sad on it?

I wonder too. But at the same time, the answer is as clear as a crystal. I don’t reply and just put my phone on the nightstand. As my thoughts fly by, I slowly fall asleep.

The rays of sun filtered by the curtains wake me. I open my eyes slowly and stand up lazily. After bathing and brushing my teeth, I put on black jeans and a turtleneck white sweater and tie my hair in a bun.

Hello Mom, I greet mother before pressing my lips to her cheek. She smiles at me and drinks a sip of her coffee.

Fifa, hope you slept well, darling. I nod and bite into the apple in my hand.

Is Daddy gone? I inquire, fishing out a bottle of apple juice from the fridge.

Yes, he is attending a seminar in L.A.

I’m sure you’re enjoying your break, I tell her, greedily drinking my apple juice (I am an apple lover). The dark circles around her eyes are almost gone so I guess her break is making her feel better.

Sure. Today is shopping. I don’t mind going alone. I love myself enough to enjoy my own company, she gushes, making me smile.

Mother is such an amazing woman. A doctor in general practice, she is a forty-year-old, black and beautiful lady. I don’t mean a random beauty, no, the Michelle Obama’s kind of beauty: elegant, natural and luminous. I would have loved to tell her about what is going on inside me, but my hidden sadness closes my mouth each time I try to speak. That’s because in the past it has almost destroyed everything. Once in college, I look at all the students around me. I have always thought that they live perfect lives, that they are enjoying or at least trying to prepare for a future they will relish. I can’t help but only see a dark future for me. I am so frustrated about everything. While I am walking, I go over everything I planned to do on this first day of school. I am in my first year of a bachelor’s in psychology; last year I was in sociology, but I changed my program.

Fifa! I turn to Hailey, a tall blonde girl with brown eyes. She’s my friend. But I’m not sure she truly is. She hugs me warmly with a smile. She is not physically that attractive but has a charm about her.

Hi, what’s up? I greet her with a fake warm smile.

Guess what I did this summer… I don’t listen to her any more since I am busy remembering my notes for my philosophy class. She is always talking about herself; I don’t even know if she can recall basic things about me such as my address.

Oh baby. She kisses her boyfriend Dylan deeply, a brown, muscular boy, slightly shorter than her. Those two are kind of my only friends. I hang out with them because they are often the only ones who really accept me.

I walk in front, not minding their sweet words and public demonstration. Noticing some guy staring at me, I stop walking and frown my eyebrows, about to ask him why he was staring. The green-eyed brown boy starts walking to me with a super warm smile until he bumps into somebody. The girl curses, throwing at him an intense glare. He finally arrives in front of me — his forehead is slightly reddish, and he’s massaging it with a small grin. I am taken aback on one hand by the smile because he just bumped into someone and on the other hand by the way he looks good. His lips are perfectly drawn —by the greatest architect, I could say — his face is symmetrical and his eyes… God, they are wonderful!

Hi, you didn’t answer, he says, while showing me his phone screen. I frown.

What? Who are you? I feel Dylan’s arm wrapping round my shoulders.

Fifa, what’s up? he asks with this showy voice I hate so much. I look back at Hailey who is talking to some girls.

I… I am fine, is all that comes out of my mouth.

Who’s this? he inquires looking at the boy in front of me.

So? Why do you look so sad? continues the boy, not minding Dylan. Oh! It’s him.

What kind of bullshit is this prat saying? She always smiles and everyone loves her, Dylan answers, sniffing my hair — awkward, I know. He always says that my hair smells like lavender.

Can you give me a few minutes? I ask him.

Okay, hope you brought my things, he replies before leaving.

So, you’re that unknown who texted me? Why do you think I am sad? I don’t know why but I feel good knowing someone has noticed it.

I just know it. So, answer me. He is looking intensely at me. He is apparently serious about his question. He doesn’t mind Dylan’s harsh words.

I’m not, I blurt.

He wants to reply but Hailey grabs my wrist, ignoring him and pulling me forwards. I look back at the boy who is already talking with someone else. He gives me a quick look as I walk away from him. I don’t know what he meant, but I feel like he knows me. Because through these green and deep eyes, I saw my soul.



After a few walks with the perfect annoying couple, we finally reach my faculty. I hand them Shawn Mendes’ concert tickets.

Since I could only get two, I think someone has to sacrifice themselves and you’re a boy, Dylan, so… I start explaining to them.

I don’t care. I like his songs and I want to stay with my baby, he replies while kissing her on the cheek. She lets out a weird giggle. I bite my bottom lip, aware of what is going to happen next.

Sorry, Fifa, you wouldn’t want us to be away from each other, would you? she asks while blinking in an attempt to make me feel bad.

All right, enjoy, I sigh.

I know it’s stupid to let them manipulate me like that, but unfortunately, I always want to please everyone. I walk along the hallway to reach my class.

Fifa, you look gorgeous this semester, a boy with a lecherous look tells me when I walk in front of him. A shiver of disgust runs through my spine when I hear his voice.

I ignore him and keep on my way, but he doesn’t seem to like that. He grabs my arm and forces me to turn to him.

I’m talking to you. We missed you so much in the football club. I finally recognize him. He is Peter, a member of the football team. As I am part of almost all the extra-curricular clubs, I found myself in their fan club. I hate that club because I am not the least interested in football. Why then am I a member? Because I wanted to please a girl who seemed kind to me, but she just wanted a pigeon to win the competition of the one bringing the most people. I breathe deeply and turn on him.

What, Peter? I say frostily, annoyed.

I missed you, he adds. I roll my eyes.

Well, I didn’t miss you, so just leave me alone, I try to argue but he doesn’t listen.

Why do some guys like being so stupid? We both turn to look at the boy with green eyes. He is so calm as he looks at an angry Peter.

Are you talking to me? Peter barks, his nostrils flare as he speaks.

I guess, except if you are also deaf, the boy replies seriously, hands buried in his pockets. If I were him, I would just stop speaking and run away before I got beaten up. Instead of stopping them, I am too deep into watching the spectacle. Peter raises his hand to punch the other boy.

I know you feel alone, the boy says, and Peter stops, wide-eyed.

What?! exclaims Peter.

You can’t argue with punches though. I have watched you several times. You should learn how to be in harmony with yourself. Both Peter and I are looking at him with wide eyes. He looks so confident.

I think I’ll go, mumbles Peter in a low voice. He walks away, staring at his feet. His face is pale as if he had seen a ghost. I don’t know why but I walk fast to my class to escape the weird boy.

Wait! he shouts behind me, but I don’t listen and walk faster. I am just thinking about one thing: getting away from him.

When I finally reach the class, I let out a breath I didn’t know I was holding. Maybe shouldn’t I have run away? I’m sure he thinks that I’m crazy because instead of thanking him, I ran away.

Hi. I turn my head to see once more the boy from Instagram sitting by me.

Are you some kind of psychopath? I ask him, eyes narrowed.

Are you, you? he replies with a playful smile.

I can’t help but smile at his bad joke. He made me smile. I can’t believe it. His way of speaking freely might have caused that smile.

Which program are you in? I ask him to make conversation.

I don’t even know his name. This encounter seems like a back-to-front way to meet someone.

Psychology, what about you?


We’re going to spend time together, I guess.

I nod and turn back to my books.

I feel so stressed with all the courses. I can’t mess them up, I have to succeed.

I’m Shawn, Shawn Davis, what about you? I lift my head up again to look at him.

Fifame Lawson, I answer, nose in my books.

Where are you from?

Benin in Africa.

It’s odd that someone is so interested in my life. Shawn is a handsome tall boy with such beautiful green eyes, and he has a tattoo on the back of his left hand.

Oh, all right, he answers.

What was that with Peter? Were you playing the psychologist? I ask in a low voice, glancing around. It was as if Shawn had controlled him with words. He smirks.

I was just practicing and he was disturbing you. So, I chose to play on his weak point. He exudes a terrible loneliness despite all his supposed friends. I want to reply but the lecturer walks in.

At the end of the class, I walk out and head to the cafeteria before my second one starts. I always feel like everyone is staring at me, even when they are not. I sit quietly at a table after greeting people I know on my way, mostly from all the clubs I’m in. Seconds later, Shawn appears with his usual smile.

How can someone like you want to be psychologist? he inquires. I frown abruptly as a sudden anger starts growing inside me.

What do you mean? I snap, offended.

I mean you look so shut up on yourself. You are not living life so why do you want to help others to live it? he continues’ less harshly.

You don’t know me, I reply, annoyed by the freedom he has to act like he knows everyone. I thought he was cool but now he is being judgmental.

I didn’t mean to offend you. I am just observing, he tries to explain; he is not even touching his food and his arms are crossed on the table.

We just know each other since this morning, I remind him after chewing the food in my mouth.

I’ve known you since your first year. I took some sociology classes first, but I chose to focus on psychology because I want to heal mentally, and I guess you did too.

And you are not yet a psychologist so just let me breathe. Plus, you’ve been spying on me since last year or what? Even though he has the name of my favorite singer, Shawn is now scaring me. I don’t really know most people in my classes, so I am not surprised to not know him.

No. I just… He leaves his sentence hanging, probably running out of credible arguments.

I roll my eyes, grab my bag and walk out. I don’t need to be around a psychopath. I don’t see him in the second class. Maybe he is not in this one. Finally, I go home after a few meetings for various clubs.

When I arrive home, my mother is lying on the couch, reading a novel. She looks up at me.

Hey sweetie, how was your first day?

Good, I answer briefly before going to my room.

I am used to feeling like a high school student coming back from or going to school. But since my school is not that far, the best option is to stay here. We have lived in Canada since my childhood because my father found great opportunities here and had many problems with his family in Benin. My mind is still disturbed by Shawn. I don’t know why but I feel terribly guilty for being harsh to him while he was trying to be my friend. At least, I guess he wants to become my friend. I study for the rest of the day and read once again The Interpretation of Dreams by Freud. Maybe Shawn is right? I do know so much about psychology, but I can’t apply anything to myself. As

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